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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Trump, Sanders and Clinton Repeats

This edition of Groundhog Friday, an occasional wrap-up of recent repeats, includes claims from the presidential candidates about Libya, income inequality, nuclear weapons and more.

Follow the links to our articles for more information on our debunking of the claims.

Groundhog2Donald Trump on Libya, May 20 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “[Hillary Clinton’s] got horrible judgment. … I could tell you a lot of examples but one of them is Libya. Libya was an example. Libya’s a disaster. … You knock out [Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi, and she thinks we did a great job. … I would have stayed out of Libya.”

Trump’s claim that he “would have stayed out of Libya” doesn’t square with his comments at the time. In February 2011, Trump, referring to Gadhafi, said that the U.S. should go into Libya “on a humanitarian basis” and “knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively and save the lives.”

For more: “FactChecking the 10th GOP Debate,” Feb. 26



Trump on Libya oilMay 19 speech in New Jersey: “Think of Libya. You know they have some of the finest oil in the world. You know who’s got the oil? ISIS has the oil. ISIS.”

It’s true that Islamic State fighters have made numerous attacks on oil fields across Libya, according to news reports. In March 2015, it was even reported that militants believed to be associated with the Islamic State attacked and “took control” of oil fields in Bahi and Mabruk in central Libya. But Claudia Gazzini, a senior analyst for Libya with the International Crisis Group, told us that the Islamic State’s strategy thus far has largely been to disrupt oil operations in Libya rather than to try and make a profit off of them.

For more: “Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech,” April 28




Trump on trade with China, May 19 speech in New Jersey: “We have a trade deficit with China of $505 billion a year. Think of it. How stupid can we be?”

This is a repeat from our inaugural Groundhog Friday report. So let us repeat ourselves: “Trump continues to be wrong about the trade deficit with China: It was $366 billion last year. Trump’s $500 billion figure is actually close to the net trade deficit with all countries, which was $532 billion in 2015.”

For more: “FactChecking the 11th GOP Debate,” March 4



Bernie Sanders on hours, pay and incomeMay 22 interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation”: “I think that the issues that we are raising, the fact that we have to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, that people sense there’s something wrong in American society, where they working longer hours for lower wages almost, and almost all new income and wealth is going to the 1 percent.”

Sanders mixes and matches two different sets of data to make his “longer hours for lower wages” claim. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show average weekly hours and average weekly earnings both declined for production and nonsupervisory employees from 1965 to 2015. But the Sanders campaign cited BLS data showing hourly wages went down slightly from 1975, and then pointed to a Brookings Institution report that found the total number of hours worked by two-parent families in the middle 10 percent (in terms of earnings) had gone up — mainly because more women entered the workforce. The Brookings report found that the median wages for those families also had gone up — so they were working more hours for higher pay, not more hours for less.

For more: “FactChecking the MSNBC Democratic Debate,” Feb. 5



Sanders also repeated his false claim that “almost all new income and wealth is going to the 1 percent.” That’s an exaggeration, even according to the work of economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics and Political Science, whose research Sanders has cited. The Saez-Zucman study found the top 1 percent held 41.8 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2012. Federal Reserve Board economists put the figure at 36 percent.

As for income, a June 2015 update by Saez and Zucman said that 55 percent of real income growth from 1993 to 2014 went to the top 1 percent, and from 2009 to 2014, 58 percent of real income growth went to the top 1 percent. That’s not “almost all.” Sanders has sometimes used the 58 percent figure in his speeches, but sometimes he reverts to his “almost all new income” claim.

For more: “Sanders Stretches State of the Rich,” July 23, 2015, and “FactChecking the MSNBC Democratic Debate,” Feb. 5



Hillary Clinton on reducing nuclear weapons, May 22 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press“: “And I worked as secretary of state to get things done. To reduce nuclear weapons, for example, between Russia and myself. So I have a track record.”

Clinton overstates the impact of the 2011 New START agreement, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads — that is, nuclear weapons that are deployed on long-range (or strategic) launchers. In fact, Russia was below the treaty’s limit on deployed strategic nuclear warheads when the treaty took effect, and Russia has increased the number since then — going from 1,537 in February 2011 to 1,735 in March, the most recent data available. The number of U.S. nuclear warheads deployed on long-range launchers has decreased in that time, but the agreement did not call for the destruction of any nuclear weapons “withdrawn from operational deployment.”

For more: “Clinton Overstates Nuclear Achievement,” April 27